Agile working, or being agile, is something that’s become a buzz word in the business world over the last year. Change has always happened, but COVID-19 has forced business leaders like yourself to make decisions faster than ever. That’s why agility has become key for organisations to thrive.  

Read on to find out exactly what agility means for your organisation, in terms of ways of working and your operating model, as well as four actions you can take to make your organisation more agile.

What is business agility?

Outside of business, being agile means being able to move quickly and easily. It's meaning in business is the same, although instead of moving yourself, you need to be able to move a whole business in a new direction at short notice. It means that you can quickly respond to market changes and new opportunities. This ability to respond to change quickly is what can set you apart from your competitors and help you drive business performance.

In business there are two main areas where agility comes into focus:

Agility in your operating model

This is where you take a different lens on your current operating model and understand the baggage you need to let go of. You decide where your focus needs to be to pave the way for more dynamic growth, increased profitability and value generation.

Agility in your people model

This includes looking at how to successfully embed future ways of working into your culture and make agility part of what it means to work at your business. This shift will also help you drive diversity and inclusion and retain key talent. Read how you can find and keep the skills you need for a successful workforce.

An agile working environment means employee performance will be measured by output, productivity and creativity, not in hours worked. This proves to your employees that you trust them and their decision to work flexibly. As well being able to adapt and act quickly, this can result in enhanced levels of employee satisfaction and even productivity.

What are the benefits of agile working?

The key benefits of being an agile business are:

  • You can adapt to change quickly, whether that’s within your business or in the market, or even a global business environment as happened with COVID-19
  • You can respond rapidly to new customer demands
  • You can streamline your business, finding value in what you already have
  • You will be at a competitive advantage as a business that looks to the future
  • You can recruit and retain the best talent

Four things you can action today to be more agile

There’s not a once-size-fits-all, step by step guide to follow when it comes to agility. Every organisation is different. But agility has common threads that all organisations can benefit from and begin to change today.

Here’s four things you can do to build agility into your organisation:

1 Develop an agile leadership mindset

For an organisation to be agile it's leadership team need to develop an agile mindset, one where they question all that the business does, why it does it and how things get done. Included in this is questioning the leadership style and culture within the organisation and whether this enables or stifles agility.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do your leaders enable or stifle agility?
  • How aligned is your leadership style to that of an agile business, i.e. how fast can you make robust decisions?

2 Make a clear list of your business priorities

An agile organisation has its finger on the pulse. It understands changing market requirements and how competitors are doing. It understands where it makes it’s money and has the data to hand to bring insight and to take robust, yet quick decisions. In short, an agile organisation is not a super tanker, it’s a shoal of fish that understand the threats, opportunities and performance instinctively and can change direction quickly and as one.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How good is your market understanding?
  • Which products and services make you most money and which ones don’t?
  • How lean is your organisation?
  • How good is the data within your organisation, can you trust it to make best informed decisions?

3 Have people powered working environments

Remote and hybrid working is here to stay – it will continue to be part of our working patterns in the future. For many employees this is a desirable long-term outcome. To ensure that it remains an effective pattern for both your organisation and your employees, you need to embrace it, align it with your culture and use it to ensure that you win the talent war and use it to vastly improve diversity and inclusion.

In short, you can’t close the stable door but you can use this permanent shift in working patterns to increase employee engagement, develop and agile culture and make sure the best people work for you, and want to work for you.

Questions to ask yourself

  • How will you use remote and hybrid working to improve your organisation’s performance, employee engagement and talent retention?
  • How will your culture need to adapt to enable remote and hybrid working?
  • How can you use remote and hybrid working to improve diversity and inclusion?

4 Solve problems, don’t sit on them

Actions always speak louder than words. Agile organisations take action fast, learn quickly, fail even faster and double down on what works. Agile organisations never have a 'to-be' operating model, they have a ‘now’ operating model with a clear roadmap for further improvement.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Are you an organisation too busy with the day to day to stand back and understand where you need to get to and then build a clear plan to get there?
  • How good are you at holding yourselves accountable and delivering at pace?

Speak to Alan Dale to get help on your journey to becoming an agile business.

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